Are beer baths really good for you?
Beer is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages, dating back some 12,000 years. Some propose that ancient Egyptians bathed in beer to reduce anxiety (they also drank 2 litres a day). Czechs have been bathing in oak tubs full of warm beer for centuries to reduce stress. In recent times beer spas have started to make a resurgence, popping up in Europe and the US.
A Beer Spa in Karlovy Vary offers spas for groups of up to 8 people which includes “drink as much as you can” with unlimited consumption of light and dark beer Krušovice® on tap. Bathers can relax in handmade, 1000 litre royal oak brewing vats. The beer bath is infused with beer, hops, medicinal herbs and brewery yeast extract (similar to Marmite).
In order to achieve maximum results, SPA Beerland recommend not showering for at least a couple of hours after the treatment. But there is no need to worry about the odour as “the beer bath leaves your skin scented with the aroma of a hops mixture and the brewery yeast leaves your skin supple and soft.”
How much is a beer bath?
SPA BEERLAND Beer Spas claim to be the first beer spas and now have two in Prague, also Carlsbad, Marienbad, Franzenbad, Pilsen. Prices 70 euros for 1 hour with discounts the more people you have up to 200 euros for 4 persons (2 tubs). The beer spa procedure itself comprises several components: bathing in beer, beer extracts and beer herbal mixture, unlimited beer, relaxing on a bed from real wheat straw, homemade beer bread, all beside a real fireplace.
Claimed medical benefits
Among the benefits listed include:
- Regeneration of body and mind
- Treats acne, psoriasis and “orange peel skin”
- “Elimination of toxic substances stored in your body”
- Heals hepatitis
- Cures chronic arthritis
- Cures cardiovascular diseases
- “Women taking this bath can use hops as a very efficient natural peeling.”
In the Czech village of Chodova Plana the Chodova brewery run Beer Spa treatments in the ‘Beer Wellness Land’. It is recommended that you take a beer bath completely naked to get the full benefits, which they say include ‘improvement of complexion and hair’ relief of muscle tension and improving the immune system. World-famous Zatec Hops float in the warm yeasty beer, which is heated to 34C (93F) and visitors can drink beer on tap at the same time.
The science bit – are beer baths really good for you?
There is no denying that the ingredients in beer baths have some potentially beneficial qualities. Brewery yeast is high in Vitamin B12 vitamins, proteins and saccharides nutrients. While hops inhibit bacteria (which is why they were originally added to beer as a preservative, particularly for long journeys, such as India Pale Ales which had to survive the long journey to British colonies in India.)
The Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology agrees that beer contains ingredients that could be beneficial; “[Beer ingredients], especially the hops, contain an abundance of polyphenols such as kaempferol, quercetin, tyrosol, ferulic acid, xanthohumol/isoxanthohumol/8-prenylnaringenin, α-bitter acids like humulone and β-bitter acids like lupulone. 8-prenylnaringenin is the most potent phytoestrogen known to date. These compounds have been shown to possess various anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, anti-angiogenic, anti-melanogenic, anti-osteoporotic and anti-carcinogenic effects.”
Where are some Beer Spas?
Oregon, Colorado, Ohio
Prague, Czech Republic
Terranz, Franking, Austria
Granada, Tenerife Parque Santiago, Spain
Czechs are the biggest beer drinkers in the world
It’s not surprising it crossed Czechs’ minds to bathe in beer. Czechs drink more beer per person than any other country, twice as much as UK/US! The Czech Republic has the highest beer consumption per capita in the world. 143.3 liters consumed per capita (the second highest is Namibia).
The ten countries with the highest beer consumption per capita (in liters) are
- Czech Republic (143.3 liters)
- Namibia (108 liters)
- Austria (106 liters)
- Germany (104.2 liters)
- Poland (100.8 liters)
- Ireland (98.2 liters)
- Romania (94.1 liters)
- Seychelles (90 liters)
- Estonia (89.5 liters)
- Lithuania (88.7 liters)
- Australia (75.1)
- US (74.8)
- UK (70.3)
Budweiser vs Budvar
Czech Republic is the birthplace of Pilsner and Budweiser. Budweis is a town in the Czech Republic. The word Budweiser means “beer from Budweis,” where they have brewed beer since the 13th century. In 1876 an American brewing company started trying to make its own Budweiser “a beer similar in quality, color, flavor and taste to the beer then made at Budweis.” It tried to trademark the name, which led to the “Budweiser trademark dispute” between the companies that made Budweiser.
They settled so that now there is the original Budweiser or “Budvar” (Czechvar in the US) and the 1876 US version: “Budweiser™”. Budvar is owned by the people of Budweiss and continues the brewing techniques of their ancestors from the 13th century.
Annual sales of the Budweisers in 2014:
- 400 million hectoliters – Budweiser™ (Ersatz version made in US)
- 1.4 million hectoliters – Budvar (13th century real deal)
Budweiser is the most popular beer in Canada (in the US it is Bud Light, and in the UK it is Carling. Despite what the adverts would have you believe, Fosters is not the most popular beer in Australia, it is in fact Victoria Bitter (no I haven’t heard of it either)).
Wild Beer Bath Festivals in Mexico
A less relaxing type of beer bath takes place every year in Mexico. The ‘bañarse en cerveza’ is part of the annual fiesta which takes place at Easter and lasts for several days. Revellers shake up beer cans and spray them across the crowds (see videos).
“The main streets of town swell with revellers who agitate beer cans to release a spray of foam that bathes the crowd. The final destination for this informal parade is the plaza where the young people converge to dance and drink and bathe in beer.”Description of the bañarse en cerveza in Villachuato, Del Otro Lado
Literacy and Migration Across the U.S.-Mexico Border Susan V. Meyers · 2014
Bizarre Medicine: Unusual Treatments and Practices through the ages – Ruth Clifford Engs
Lonely Planet Prague & the Czech Republic
Why Bathing in Beer Could Be the Healthiest Thing You Do This Summer – Forbes
Del Otro Lado Literacy and Migration Across the U.S.-Mexico Border – By Susan V. Meyers · 2014